Doctors without borders, also known as MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres) is an impartial organization that was founded for purely humanitarian reasons. It remains neutral in the fact that it never promotes or campaigns for any political, religious or country’s personal agenda. The focus of MSF is to provide the best possible medical care to those who truly need it the most. The organization was built on the belief that every person, no matter their creed, religion, race, gender or political affiliation should have the right and access to quality medical care or treatment.
The history of MSF is an inspiring story that shows the true power that individuals can have in making a real difference in the world. When Paris was in turmoil in May 1968, several young doctors recognized the need to get help to the victims caught up in the revolt and destruction. This action coincided with the first images being broadcast to the world of heartbreaking conditions that included children suffering and starving in several countries. Those events led the doctors to create a movement that would aid these victims. While the Red Cross was already a presence in some situations, they were not truly an organization dedicated to the medical requirements of people in need. The group of doctors felt that the Red Cross was neglecting many areas of assistance and they also wanted to make the world more aware of the horrific events taking place. As years followed, other doctors and volunteers joined the movement. Their work put in place the groundwork and basis for what would become the MSF.
This organization was founded by those French doctors who began the initial movement in that country. In fact, the first office was located in Paris. However, since the early 80′s, 28 countries have seen new offices open and the group now has over 30,000 people working for them. The MSF came to the United States in 1990 and quickly established a powerful presence in New York. The expansion into the States allowed the organization to greatly increase its ability to recruit, advocate and raise funding. Since that time, the US office has branched out and assumed responsibility for programs in several other countries such as Ethiopia, Chad and Sudan.
The MSF provides medical care and assistance to victims in several categories. These include those affected by natural or man made disasters, victims of armed conflict, individuals or groups that are discriminated against by their own health care programs, people who suffer from malnutrition as well as those who are being affected by deadly epidemics. The MSF serves each category in specific ways.
The organization responds to various outbreaks of cholera, measles, malaria and other infectious and fatal diseases that can be potentially spread throughout the population. It also aids individuals who are suffering from tuberculosis, HIV or AIDS. Some of the world’s poorest people cannot access the medications they need so the MSF will reach out and make those resources available.
The hard reality is that over 190 million children all over the world are suffering from malnutrition and its devastating effects. The organization strives to provide families with the therapeutic and healing foods that can make a real difference in their children’s lives. These foods are designed to provide all the minerals, nutrients, vitamins and other things necessary to encourage proper child development. The MSF also utilizes every media resource available to bring awareness and education to people all over the world. Their goal is to bring about a call for action from government and other groups to help eradicate child hunger along with its devastating effects.
3. Armed Conflict
One of the initial needs that were recognized by the founding members of the organization was the plight of the injured and wounded victims that were left in the wake of violent conflicts. The group tends to those who receive afflictions from knives, guns, beatings, bombings, etc. After such events, there are also people who become unable to get to treatment when needed. The MSF will work to get into those areas and reach those people. They also provide basic necessities for victims who may have been displaced due to war. Even on the spot surgery and emergency medical procedures can be performed by the large group of medical professionals.
4. Natural Disasters and Exclusion from Healthcare
The organization will come in after a disaster and help with the clean up and rebuilding process. They will also tend to wounded and ill residents as well. Around the world, those individuals who face exclusion from healthcare programs can also find assistance through the MSF.
Not only does Doctors without Borders provide these services, they also call on government and other political officials to ensure that their focus is on the well being and care of the people they represent. The organization is always ready to bring any of these issues to the forefront, whether it is through media outlets, education or recruitment.